By Pam Greene, Program Director
Each winter for the past 25 years, the Russell R. Huntington Jr. Foundation has sponsored an overnight adventure in the Catskills for teenagers with cancer and other serious illnesses. This February the group of six teens arrived with staff from the Tomorrows Children’s Institute (TCI) at Hackensack Medical Center for two days of outdoor activity and time away from treatments, school and family. The trip gave the participants a chance to make new friends and try new things.
Once the bus was unloaded and all the suitcases, games, and snacks were brought into the Learning Center at Hunter Mountain, the teens met their hosts, Russ and Lois Huntington, and their instructors for the two days. After getting their rental equipment, everyone headed to the base lodge for lunch before venturing out to the slopes.
Most were new to skiing or snowboarding, but with the help of instructors from the Adaptive Sports Foundation, the teens progressed quickly. At the end of the afternoon, the skis and snowboards were put away for the night and the group headed to the tubing park. Russ was the fearless leader at the tubing park. He has a reputation for going faster and farther than anyone else and worked hard to keep his status as king of the tubing hill.
After an hour of tubing we returned to the Learning Center to shed a few layers and go to dinner. All the instructors, students, and TCI staff joined Russ and Lois for a dinner that included a touching thank you from the participants. The teens and TCI staff stayed at a classic Catskill Mountain inn and every year there are stories of late nights playing games.
The next morning, the group reconvened for breakfast and more time skiing and riding. For those that didn’t get to the top of the mountain, there was an opportunity for a chairlift ride to the top. The highlight of the trip for many was the snowmobile ride around the base area. Mid-afternoon the bus returned to take the group back home. By all reports it was a quiet trip home as most were asleep. The photos and memories are a record of the time away and the success of overcoming new challenges.